Counterfeit goods in China – – no laughing matter

Here’s a very serious look at some of the horrors counterfeiting can cause, and how some Chinese swindlers don’t give a damn if they can make a buck out of it.

[T]his isn’t only about cheaply imitated Louis Vuitton purses or bootlegged Harry Potter DVDs. This is a much bigger issue. I’m sure most of you still remember the news of fake milk powder that circulated months ago. Pictures of severely malnourished babies with abnormally large heads surfaced on numerous news sources and no doubt enraged the entire civilized world. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an isolated incident. The fact that there was more than one brand of fake milk powder shows that there is a collective mindset among Chinese merchants; they really would stoop this low in order to make a quick buck.

But if you think a few sickly babies were the end of the story, you’re sorely mistaken. In China, practically anything can be faked. Horror stories include “soy sauce” made out of hair, lunchmeat made with rotten meat of unknown origin, and fake eggs. That’s right: fake eggs. They had shells and everything. Chinese farmers, aware that oranges with a Sunkist sticker can fetch a higher price, actually went through the laborious process of dying their green and malnourished oranges a more attractive shade of orange. They even went through the trouble of applying fake Sunkist stickers to them.

The sad thing is these aren’t urban legends passed on from a friend of a friend. These are real issues faced by Chinese citizens. Ask any one of your Chinese friends and I’m sure they can tell you many similar stories. Clearly, Chinese merchants are the most innovative and entrepreneurial bunch of people on this planet. After all, who else would think of stewing hair to make soy sauce or bootlegging an orange?

Unfortunately, their intelligence is applied in all the wrong places. I guess part of it can be blamed on society. Despite the country’s recent economic boom, most Chinese, especially the ones who live away from coastal cities, are still living in poverty and are likely uneducated. A lack of money combined with a lack of education makes these people especially vulnerable to counterfeit merchandise. They can’t distinguish whether a package of milk powder is real or not, but they do know that it is cheap enough to afford.

This is one of those problems that seem all but insurmountable, at least for the time being. It all ties back to corruption and the lack of rule of law, which ties back to one-party rule. We all know about China’s periodic crackdowns on counterfeit goods, and how the next day they’re back on the shelves again. While it’s nice to buy a DVD for one dollar, it’s also important to remember the very dark side of this phenomenon.

The Discussion: 80 Comments

“This is one of those problems that seem all but insurmountable, at least for the time being. It all ties back to corruption and the lack of rule of law, which ties back to one-party rule. We all know about China’s periodic crackdowns on counterfeit goods, and how the next day they’re back on the shelves again. ”

It is the same in NYC, and these counterfeit items are not just sold by Chinese vendors.

February 1, 2005 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

The most notorious counterfeit items, were name brand Chinese wines, counterfeited with poisonous liquior that killed many people in the 70s.

February 1, 2005 @ 3:51 pm | Comment

I have never read about babies in New York City being born with hugely swollen heads due to counterfeit powdered milk. Link, please.

February 1, 2005 @ 3:55 pm | Comment

No I am talking about counterfeit LV items and bootleg DVD. Didnt Seinfeld or George bootleg a movie in the sitcom?

February 1, 2005 @ 4:00 pm | Comment

Talking about fake, Live animals can be counterfeit too. Scam-artists painstakenly dyed smaller ducks into the coloring of Mallards, or wild “Chinese water ducks.” to sell for higher price in the market.
Fake snake bladder is inserted into a live snake to sell as real snake bladder.

February 1, 2005 @ 4:23 pm | Comment

This article isn’t just about counterfeiting, but about just how terrible its consequences can be. Of course there’s some counterfeiting of DVDs and other items in the US (and Thailand and many, many other places). But none even begin to compare in scale to China, and none has such a dark history when it comes to fake products that kill.

February 1, 2005 @ 4:54 pm | Comment

Richard, you neglected to include the URL for the original article…

February 1, 2005 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

Good point about the political connection to counterfeiting. It’s really awful here. I bought some counterfeit Marlboros which tasted like tree bark, and they could just as well have been made from something poisonous, because no one here would ever track back to the manufacturer.

Another data point: we sell a US-made, high-grade (expensive) tool steel here in China. The customers demand a lab certificate from the foundry, because even STEEL is faked!

February 1, 2005 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

David, thanks — it’s fixed.

Sam, stop smoking. If I did it, you can, too.

February 1, 2005 @ 6:15 pm | Comment

Didn’t similar things happened in the US and Europe in the early decades of the 20th century? And similar things are happening in other developing countries (including democratic ones). Not every problem in China is a result of one party rule or some genetic or cultural defect of the Chinese. If such was the case, you would see the same things happening in places like Singapore.

February 1, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

Huimao, why do you say this? I’ve never heard of such things happening in the US, and certainly it’s inconceivable in a place like Singapore! There may be an isolated case, but this sort of thing in China is a daily occurrence, whether it’s a restaurant owner putting rat poison in his competitor’s food or con men selling fake baby formula, killing babies and having a blast with the money they made. There are scumbags in every society, but the system in China lends itself to such behavior.

February 1, 2005 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

Fake medicines will kill as many people as fake milk also.

“The risk to Americans from counterfeit drugs, most experts say, is not yet grave. It is a growing threat, though, one driven by escalating drug prices that push patients and businesses to find alternate and less reliable means of obtaining cheaper medications, and improving technologies that make it easier to copy the appearance of pills and packaging.

The federal Food and Drug Administration’s investigations of counterfeit drugs have more than tripled in recent years, reaching 20 or more for each of the past three years after never topping six from 1997 through 2000.

Experts estimate that less than 1 percent of the nation’s prescription drug supply is counterfeit, with much of that linked to drugs purchased from Internet sites, especially those based in other countries.

Recent FDA alerts have warned consumers about these counterfeit medications: Ortho Evra transdermal contraceptive patches, Lipitor, the most popular cholesterol lowering drug, and Serostim, an AIDS drug.

“Counterfeiting poses a potentially serious threat,” said William Hubbard, an FDA associate commissioner in an interview last week. “We know that counterfeiting is widespread in foreign countries, and with the cost of drugs so expensive, counterfeiters see the U.S. as a market where they could make a lot of money.”

February 1, 2005 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

I’m not saying such things are happening in the US now, but a 100 years ago during the days of the robber barons. The point about Singapore is that like China, Singapore is also a one-party state with an ethnic Chinese population and yet such things definitely don’t happen in Singapore, so we can’t simply reduce the problems of fake goods and immoral merchants to that of one-party politics and Chinese culture or genetics.

February 1, 2005 @ 9:21 pm | Comment

Hui Mao,
It is still happening today in the US, and it is getting worse, read my linked article above. Go to the link.

February 1, 2005 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

Richard, it is not only in China that foods are faked, and in such ways as to make them outright dangerous to consume. Just take a more careful look at what is in your own local supermarket in the United States!

Let us begin my examining chicken nuggets – a very American invention. In most cases, they contain 30% less meat than the labels on their frozen packets claim – that it because they include chicken skin as “meat”.

Even if the percentage of meat in the chicken nuggets that you buy (assuming that is, that you might sometimes buy them) looks reassuringly high, you may be surprised by what exactly counts as meat. Nugget manufacturers in both Britain and the USA and Australia source their meat in various ways. Some use local chicken, true. Some buy high-quality meat direct from Thailand or Brazil. Some buy whatever is cheapest on the market, which is often frozen Thai and Brazilian chicken imported.

Before all of this chicken is turned into nuggets they are first “tumbled” – a process in which chicken is bulked up with water and other additives. Processors defrost the meat and then inject it with dozens of needles, or tumble it in giant cement-mixer-like machines, until the water is absorbed. The tumbling helps dilute the salt to make the chicken palatable, and allows the manufacturer to make huge profits selling water. Once it has been tumbled, the meat is refrozen and shipped on for further processing.

Richard – the story gets less appetising still.

One of the things that has puzzled many observers of the poultry industry is how some processors manage to get so much water to stay in the chicken. Why doesn’t it just flood out when it is turned into a takeaway or a ready meal or a chicken nugget?

Well, the answer is profoundly shocking.

DNA tests specially developed by UK researchers investigating this phenomena, for example, have enabled the English food standards agency to identify lots of water (in one case 43%) and traces of pork proteins in samples of US chicken breasts used in McDonald’s. Six months later, Irish authorities made an even more unsettling discovery in chicken: undeclared bovine proteins.

Seventeen samples from Dutch processors contained them, which where most of the UK chicken is “tumbled”. Some manufacturers were using a new technique – injecting so-called hydrolysed proteins. These are proteins extracted at high temperatures or by chemical hydrolysis from old animals or parts of animals which are no use for food, such as skin, feathers, hide, bone and ligaments, and rather like cosmetic collagen implants, they make the flesh swell up and retain liquid.

Others nuggets will be made from various bits of British chicken. Some are made from chunks of chicken breast and skin. Some are mostly skin, or skin and MRM. If tumbled meat is being used, the chicken is defrosted in microwaves before being minced into nuggets.

Manufacturers neutralise the salty taste by adding sugar in various forms, often as dextrose or lactose, and put flavour back in with chicken flavourings in the meat pulp, in the batter or in the breadcrumbs. Other additives can help restore the texture. Soya proteins are the commonest used, with gums as emulsifiers, to stop the whole mix separating out again. Phosphates also help glue up the proteins.

Likewise, let us quickly examine McDonald’s fillet-o-fish. McDonald’s nutritional brochures described the fish in its Filet-O-Fish as being “100% cod with a pinch of salt to taste after cooking”. But a list of ingredients from by the company includes “modified corn starch, dextrose, cellulose gum, citric acid and an anti-foaming agent called dimethylpolysiloxane”. One New York judge overseeing a libel case against McDonalds a year or so ago described McDonald’s chicken nuggets and burgers as “McFrankensteinian”.

The time consuming process for making processed meats creates high bacteria counts and putrefaction which need to be treated with chemicals. Putrefaction causes meat to turn green which is then dyed with red chemicals to appear fresh. Unless marked otherwise, hamburger will always contain red dyes.

The beef industry is the largest user of antiobiotics in the world to offset the dangerous bacteria housed in its meats. This in fact, is thought to be one of the main causes of the growing resistance to antibiotics among today’s Americans.

And just take American cookies! Oreo cookies for example, will set you up for craving more sugar within 3 hours! So-called “natural flavors” are in fact manufactured chemicals to make Oreos taste like great chocolate cookies. Most such highly processed foods have these flavour enhancers which are nothing more than carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals with no natural flavours of their own at all. The Nabisco Company refused to disclose how many transfats there are in their Oreo cookies – they termed that information as ‘classified’!

I could go on… suffice to say Richard that ruthless and unscrupulous entrepreneurs do not only exist in China. Such American corporate bodies as McDonald’s and Nabisco etc have elevated such utter contempt for their consumers’ health and well-being to an art form – and they do so with the full backing of their political and legal system!

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

February 2, 2005 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Well said, Mr Jones. One could add Agent Orange, Thalidomide, DDT, Depleted Uranium, smog, the recent craze for SUVs (along with advertisements encouraging driving behaviour even more environmentally destructive than simply driving down the road) and the blatant disregard for global warming that threatens many a small island state with submersion. What will the big, industrial, most seriously polluting countries and multinationals of the world do for the folks of Tokelau, Tuvalu or the Maldives should they find themselves paddling canoes over what used to be their houses? Send them a floating McDonalds outlet and assure them it’s good for their health?

Even when the goods are genuine, the quality may be genuinely poor or the effects on human and/or environmental health genuinely disastrous, and the cover-up genuinely criminal.

This entire world, not simply China or America, is desperately lacking in business ethics, and the result is not limited to a few hundred Chinese babies dying of malnutrition.

But don’t worry Richard, Chinese markets aren’t so chock full of fake food as that scare-mongering article suggests. Just make sure you wash everything well to get rid of the genuinely toxic pesticide residues before you eat it.

February 2, 2005 @ 1:03 am | Comment

Richard – just one more thing. i would like to place what I just said in a broader, more theoretical context.

As food is produced for profit, be it in both America or China, it follows that where the incentive for profit exists, there is always a possibility of the capitalist taking full advantage of it, and in a way that is directly detrimental to those who are dependent on food supplied from factories, restaurants, shops, etc., in fact from all sources except the very small amount which is grown in our own private gardens or allotments.

These days, whether we like it or not, nearly all our foods are adulterated, for the simple and very good reason (from the capitalist standpoint) that it is profitable to adulterate food. Coffee is frequently mixed with chicory because coffee costs significantly more than chicory. Sausages are adulterated with bread, and fish cakes with potatoes, and chicken with water, salt, and a whole cocktail of other chemical agents.

Nearly all our jams are coloured with aniline dyes (a coal tar product) to give “eye appeal” so important in selling. Tinned peas and other green vegetables have copper sulphite mixed with them to enhance their colour, because all tinned green vegetables soon lose their colour, and therefore don’t look fresh. In the UK, most kippers are put through a bath of creosote to give them a golden yellow colour.

So long as food is produced under capitalism (ie. so long as it is exists in the form of a commodity) it will be adulterated, refined, processed, dyed and artificially faked – be in in China, America, the UK, or wherever.

Only when food is produced solely for consumption and nourishment will food be free from harmful adulteration and supply the human body with the right kind of nourishment. There will then be neither need for food reform nor possibility or incentive for adulterating food.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

February 2, 2005 @ 1:07 am | Comment

Yes Chris – excellent points. And we can now add depleted uranium to this list of deadly substances, unleashed on developing countries like Iraq – I mention this, since you brought up Agent Orange.

And of course, kennteoh, before me, brought up the issue of Ford manufacturing unsafe cars.

And the USA is the world’s biggest polluter, the biggest producer of greenhouse gasses, followed by China.

Mark Anthony Jones

February 2, 2005 @ 1:23 am | Comment

Sorry Chris – I just re-read your comments above – you did in fact mention depleted uranium.

Mark Anthony Jones

February 2, 2005 @ 1:28 am | Comment

It is interesting that the article baked here by Richard mentions the faked milk powder problem here in China. It doesn’t mention anything about the ongoing investigations by Chinese authorities into these practices, nor does it mention any of the arrests that have been made here in China. A court in Fuyang in, Anhui province, for example, recently jailed four merchants for four to eight years for selling fake formula to villages which led to the death of one baby and the malnutrition of two.

Likewise, just to name but one other example, Chi Changban, a milk-powder manufacturer from south-eastern Zhejiang province, was jailed for seven years for producing and selling the formula.

According to the author of the article above, “The fact that there was more than one brand of fake milk powder shows that there is a collective mindset among Chinese merchants; they really would stoop this low in order to make a quick buck.”

True, producing such dangerous products is a low act. Which is why somebody should tell this to big Western companies like Nestle too! Such a callous disregard for people’s lives is not peculiar only to China.

Every 30 seconds, a baby dies from unsafe bottle feeding. Without breast feeding, babies don’t get the benefit of passive immunity normally passed on in the mothers’ milk. The risk of contracting serious diseases from bottle feeding is therefore high, but it is further compounded by the fact that, in the developing world, many people don’t have access to a clean water supply with which to make up the formula, and poverty can lead to mothers over-diluting the formula to make it go further. This is certainly a problem here in China. Waterborne diseases fed straight to vulnerable babies causes what is now a common condition in many parts of the world – diarrhoea, vomiting, respiratory infections, malnutrition, dehydration and commonly death – known as Bottle-Baby disease.

The Western manufacturers of baby milk products all know this happens. Concerns over ‘bottle baby disease’ in the developing world, and the aggressive promotional activities of the companies, led to the drawing up of the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes in 1981.

At the World Health Assembly in the same year, 118 countries voted for this to become the new voluntary code of practice adopted as a minimum requirement for all countries.

After a long boycott campaign, Nestle and other companies eventually agreed to abide by the Code, and the boycott was called of in 1984. However reports have continued to come in from around the world that the Code is still being violated by baby milk companies, and Nestle in particular has become the focus of criticism being by far the largest supplier of baby milk to developing countries. The boycott campaign was thus re-launched in 1988, and is now active in over 80 countries.

Baby Milk Action (the group co-ordinating the Nestle boycott in the UK) claims that over 99% of mothers are able to breastfeed. The code exists to ensure that any woman who wishes to breastfeed will not be dissuaded by company promotions undermining the message that ‘breast is best’.

Nestle encourages bottle feeding primarily by either giving away free samples of baby milk to hospitals, or neglecting to collect payments. It has been criticised for misinforming mothers and health workers in promotional literature. Nestle implies that malnourished mothers, and mothers of twins and premature babies are unable to breastfeed, despite health organisations claims that there is no evidence to support this.

Evidence of direct advertising to mothers has been found in over twenty countries such as South Africa and Thailand, and I might add, China. Instructions and health warnings on packaging are often either absent, not prominently displayed or in an inappropriate language. All of these actions directly contravene the Code regulating the marketing of baby milk formulas.

And then there is the German company, Milupa – one of the major violators of the WHO Code. Milupa has also been criticised for its marketing of heavily of heavily sugared baby herbal drinks. In December 1990, a Frankfurt court ordered the company to pay compensation to parents for causing severe dental caries in two children. The company was accused of negligence and providing insufficient warning on packaging about the sugar content of its products. About 100,000 children are said to have suffered severe tooth damage from these drinks marketed by Milupa and other producers.

And then, just to name but one more example, there is the American company Wyeth, which is one of the major violators of the WHO Code. It is listed as totally or substantially violating the Code’s requirements of no promotion in healthcare facilities, no promotion to health workers and no free samples or supplies. The company is the subject of boycott calls in the US and Australia.

Wyeth also manufactures the bonzodiazepine tranquilliser, Ativan. It is one of the companies which has been criticised for not warning doctors of the drug’s possible addictiveness and therefore of the need to prescribe it for short periods only. The company tests its products on animals and continues to use acute toxicity tests such as the Draize test.

Mark Anthony Jones

February 2, 2005 @ 2:01 am | Comment

I’ve never heard of anyone developing swollen heads and dying awful deaths on the spot from eating Chicken McNuggets. And I know they’re bad for you, but we all know it’s bad and it’s our choice. If the mothers knew what was in those infant formula packets, do they think they still would buy them?

Of course China’s not the only wrong-doer. But your comparisons are atrocious. To portray the US as a worse polluter than China because of greenhouse gases is sneaky and dishonest. Greenhouse gases are bad, but you shoud know that the type of pollution you find in China is far more lethal and terrible, going far beyond greenhouse gases.

I also enjoy the comparison to drugs like Thalidomide. To even begin to compare thalidomide with someone intentionally selling poison packaged as baby food is not acceptable. Do you really believe a bunch of wicked businessmen got together and plotted to get rich quick by selling thalidomide in full awareness of what it would do? Even though the results could destroy their companies? Look at what Merck is going through because of Vioxx. Yes, they should have pulled Vioxx earlier and someone was very irresponsible. But to compare it with counterfeiters selling poison to children — well, I hardly know what to say. They poured years of research money into these drugs and they certainly had the well being of the people at heart (as well as the desire to profit). As for Chicken McNuggets, again, they’re bad for you as are cigarettes and so many other things lin life, but to compare it to, say, the man who in 2003 put arsenic in the food of a competing restaurant murdering scores of students — well, as I said, it’s unacceptable.

And hardly a day goes by in China when you do not hear of deaths from business negligence, again, on a scale the likes of which we have never seen before at any time or in any nation. Be it illegal mines or explosions or what have you, it all traces back to a system where whoever can pay the bribes gets to keep their unsafe business. And it goes back to a mindset where to get rich at any cost is glorious, a mindset that has resulted in a tragic carelessness and disrespect for one’s fellow man. (This phenomenon is discussed in Becker’s The Chinese in case anyone’s interested.) You’ll find greedy and unscrupulous businesspeople aplenty in America, for sure. But the controls in place usually work to identify and stop them, and tighter standards are imposed and enforced. Coal mines stopped caving in on a daily basis half a century ago in most other countries.

February 2, 2005 @ 7:11 am | Comment

Oh, and I know things in America are horrible and we’re a bunch of environmental rapists and pigs. But if someone is going to say that we’ve polluted America in any way comparable to the way China or Russia have polluted their countries — well, I can’t argue with irrational America haters. And I hate America today (its political leaders, anyway) but I try to retain my rationality and my perspective. Some of the arguments I’m reading here expired in the 1970s, I thought,nd for good reason.

February 2, 2005 @ 8:57 am | Comment


Wheter or not there is counterfeit in NYC isn’t relevant to the fact that there is counterfeit in China. Don’t you think? Neither does raising this issue lessen any pain or suffering of those victims by the least.

However, I understand your emotions here. I wouldn’t like the ugly fact in my family to be seen by others either, but to a much larger degree do I hate those shameless scumbags with no regard to human life and decency.

And, I want to do something change the situation. Being brave isn’t about denial but acceptance to the ugly fact. Seeing problems is the first step of solving problems.

Richard wouldn’t have posted it if he didn’t a damn about China. He could have sat there and praised this great nation all day without the risk of steping on any toes. But what good does it do?

I’m grateful he is as he is, and Pekingduck too.

February 2, 2005 @ 10:05 am | Comment


No, I didn’t argue about the fact that conterfeit goods are running rampant in China. I have given 3 examples above as a matter of fact.

February 2, 2005 @ 10:30 am | Comment

Thanks Tetsu — it’s good to see that somebody in this thread likes me. 🙂

If you’re familiar with the characters here (most of whom I respect and enjoy), you’ll know that some have this knee-jerk reaction to anything critical you say about China — they instantly reply that the US is the same or worse.

It’s like the Republicans after Abu Ghraib was uncovered. They kept saying, “Well their side killed Nick Berg,” as though the two were equal, as if one atrocity made the other okay. And they kept forgetting, Americans were there to liberate, not terrorize. In othe words, there was no critical thought behind their knee-jerk response, no examination of what actually happened and why.

I do love China. I will be there in four weeks, as a matter of fact. I am deeply critical of what I see to be outrages that could be remedied if not eliminated altogether by rule of law and the end of one-party rule. I’m unforgiving of the CCP for its lies and deceptions during the SARS crisis, though I was willing to give them a chance with the new rulers. I still respect and admire Wen. But instead of getting better under Hu, it’s gotten worse, at least politically. In essence, I only get mad at one thing when it comes to China: policies and practices that lead to misery, oppression and death for its citizens. Oh, and I get mad sometimes at the people who see these crimes as acceptable and unavoidable.

So if I seem opinionated on the subject, it’s because I am. But blogs are no fun without strong opinions.

February 2, 2005 @ 10:39 am | Comment

Baby Milk Action (the group co-ordinating the Nestle boycott in the UK) claims that over 99% of mothers are able to breastfeed.

I’d love to know where starving women get the extra 500 calories a day to create milk.

February 2, 2005 @ 2:17 pm | Comment

while fake stuff exists everywhere, as the article talks about, nobody goes to the extent of Chinese in preparing the fake stuff. I remember an article in one of the British newspapers talking about Shanghais’ famed hairy crabs. When counterfeits made there way onto the market, the real producers used laser engraving to guarantee authenticity, the counterfeiters picked up on this and started doing the same thing…So much intelligence and effort, truly applied wrongly.

February 2, 2005 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

I notice that there are two kind of fake in China, there are the fakes that people unwittingly buy, like the oranges and the baby formula, which are fuelled by the greed of the producers, and there are the fakes that people knowingly buy like Levis jeans and Nike trainers, which are fuelled by the greed of the consumers. We need to draw a line between these two things. A mother buying fake formula is a victim, a father buying a fake DVD is not.

The thing that really annoys me about China is that people will so willingly buy fakes, and by this I don’t mean fake medicine. Many people say that China is a poor country but that it DESERVES to have the same luxury goods as America, and then it blames America for pricing these goods out of the range of ordinary people. People want the latest CDs and DVDs and they want brand named goods, and they don’t care if they are not real, just so long as they have them. It is this kind of attitude that allows the counterfeiting industry to thrive. People don’t look to the long term, and they don’t care that they are damaging China’s reputation or the long term profitability of legal industries, they just say WE ARE CHINA, WE DESERVE MORE, and when they can’t buy what they want legally, they take it through fakes.

People are buying into a lie because of their own greed. What they are buying most of the time aren’t essential products; they are accessories to a life style of brand named goods and movies.

Even Chinese brands are often fakes, this damages the Chinese economy by making innovation and hard work take a back seat to an initiative for ripping off somebody else’s ideas, and it makes China looks like a nation of cheapskate rip of merchants.

If China wants people to see it as a hub of innovation, they have to start innovating in the right places, and stop ripping people off.

People in the west are not helping matters either, how many tourists have loaded up their bags with counterfeit CDs in Beijing and Shanghai because they are cheaper than they are at home. This just fuels the industry.

February 2, 2005 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

News just in. US Doctors nabbed for selling fake Botox.

February 2, 2005 @ 6:49 pm | Comment

Heinous and sickening, ACB. But look at the article carefully:

The third doctor, Bach McComb, was accused of acquiring the substance and injecting it in himself and three other people in November in a clinic north of Miami.

The doctor felt it was safe and effective enough to inject himself with it. Now go back to our counterfeit infant formula fucktards. Would they have swallowed their own infant formula? No.

What the doctors did was wrong, but in terms of consequences and scale of badness, it’s not even close. Hell, they believed it was so safe they used it themselves. They didn’t display a blatant contempt for the lives of others, though they were definitely assholes.

February 2, 2005 @ 6:56 pm | Comment

On the subject of intellectual property rights, I always find it amusing that at the same time the U.S. cries foul, untold numbers Americans are logged on to (and happily buying through) arguably the biggest, loosely monitored pipeline for copyright-violated material: a publically traded, investor darling called eBay.

February 2, 2005 @ 8:27 pm | Comment


I was merely saying that people in America do this too. My above rant made it seem like only Chinese people knowingly brough fake products. I was just leveling things up so that I didn’t come out totally anti China.

I idly wonder if the people who made the fake formula had any idea that it was dangerous. I’ve met people in China who still don’t know that reading in poor light damages your eyes or that antibiotics don’t work on viruses. We sholdn’t take it for granted that these people knew that they were peddling a dangerous product, after all, neutrician isn’t covered very well in China.

Then again, I’m not going to defend these people because they’re sick, greedy, and took advantage of their neighbors and destroyed people’s families.

I think that greed and the want to have more but not pay for it is the root of the problem.

People want designer names aren’t prepared to, or can’t, pay the retail prices that keep brand names exclusive, or they want to make money quickly but don’t have a so they grab somebody elses.

February 3, 2005 @ 2:51 am | Comment

Where do you think all of the pirates on EBay come from? They’re not all done in somebody’s garage are they.

February 3, 2005 @ 2:56 am | Comment

As seems to me to so often be the case, it comes back to the Chinese cultural quality of “ma mu”, indifference toward people you don’t directly know. It pervades Chinese society.

I haven’t read Jasper Becker’s latest book, but I wonder if this is what he is referring to.

For me, it’s the most dismaying aspect of Chinese culture. That people will intentionally and unashamedly put others at (often great) risk to get some (often small) personal gain, it’s really saddening.

I wonder how five thosand years of culture led to this. 🙁

February 3, 2005 @ 6:15 am | Comment

Shanghai slim,
What is ma mu? I think its more of a communist culture not Chinese culture, notice the Russians have the same mentality.

February 3, 2005 @ 7:49 am | Comment

JR, I can rattle off many, many, many examples of ma mu in China, just based on what I read in the news every day. I have not heard of similar stories about Russia, at least not in any great quantity. Why do you make the comparison?

February 3, 2005 @ 8:28 am | Comment

Shanghai Slim,

“As seems to me to so often be the case, it comes back to the Chinese cultural quality of “ma mu”, indifference toward people you don’t directly know. It pervades Chinese society”

I totally agree with you and I’m also saddened by this fact. Though I don’t think five thousand years of culture has anything to do with this. IMHO, it’s the two hundred years of wars, famine, humiliation, enormous pain and suffering that led to this. When the stongest and bravest men can’t defend the homeland, when the smartest scholars don’t know the answer, when the best officials were cast to afar, when the country is torn apart and you can’t see the slightest light for future of the nation and society. What do you do? You turn to yourself and your family. Those are the only two things you care about,and can care about.

You might ask, Chinese can feed and defend themselves now, how come they still behave this way. IMHO, the progress of a society has a tremendous momentum. People’s mentality and behavior don’t change overnight when the environment changes. They need time to change, sometimes even over generation.

My grandparents are retired and they have a big apartment and excellent welfare. Honestly, they’ve got enough money to live luxuriously before they go. Though they don’t waste anything. Rotten apples, rice with buggs, unthinkable nasty stuff, they don’t throw away. When accused of being cheap by my uncles and aunts, they simply ignore the comment and say, “we’ve seen bad days.” They were born in Manchuria and survived many wars, and I can see the impression the bad times left in their heart, and I don’t expect them to change.

Of course, that is absolutely no excuse for making profit without regard to other people’s rights and lives. It’s merely my take on the reason why people become so “ma mu” , and hopefully may shed some light for those who are also seeking the answers.

To sum it up, I believe Chinese people will eventually change, if given time and guidance. They need rules of law, educations on the moral values, economics, and social values. It is going to take a long term, collective effort from the government, society and those individuals who can’t stand a sand in the eye and keep putting their awareness into good deeds.

February 3, 2005 @ 8:43 am | Comment

Great points, Tetsu.

February 3, 2005 @ 8:47 am | Comment


If ma mu means numbness there, you can not describe it as a Chinese culture. Can you honestly describe Chinese people from Taiwan and Hong Kong are being numb? It is fair to say Mainland Chinese in the past, especially before the 80s, the faces of Chinese people are expressionless or numb, the same facial expressionless could be seen in the Russians during the Soviet era. Therefore, it is not right to say ma mu or numbness is a Chinese culture. If ma mu means “people sweeping snow in front of their own houses.” The same principle applies here in the North East, people only sweep and clean the snow off their walkway and front yard right to their property lines. I call this “selfishness” as human behavior, not Chinese culture.

February 3, 2005 @ 9:52 am | Comment

JR, please see this post from another Chinese blogger to better understand what I’m referring to.

February 3, 2005 @ 9:56 am | Comment

Also, I wrote my own post in regard to Andres’ “Gimme” post.

February 3, 2005 @ 9:58 am | Comment


Thanks for your compliment. Have a safe and pleasant trip to China.

February 3, 2005 @ 1:43 pm | Comment

I’ve been reading Peking Duck for a while now and what strikes me about the complaints and comments about the Chinese and the government is that there is a conflict of culture. Anybody reading this is probably one of the elites of the world living a lifestyle which 70 percent of the world could only be in envy of. None of us is likely to go hungry today or tomorrow. We stand on top of the world like the peak of a pyramid.

Because of our wealth and advanced lifestyle, we can afford luxuries like everybody having a car to drive to work, having a cup of coffee everyday or seeing a shrink if we’re unhappy. Because of this wealth we have also developed a certain type of lifestyle which we think is right and proper which usually means highly advanced manners and morals. People in poverty and dire situations never had a chance to develop this type of lifestyle. They’re much too busy trying to survive.

The Chinese people are probably at the social stage of what we were around 100 years ago. Most of them have been raised in extreme poverty and been taught to look out only for themselves. This is not an uncommon attitude even in America of around 140 years ago. I was once doing research on General George Custer of Custer’s Last Stand Fame. One book described the values of America’s Wild West during the 1860’s. A man was taught to look out for himself, to be independent and not to look out for others. If a man can’t fend for himself, that was his own damn fault not mine.

Anybody read Laura Ingalls Wilder book The Long Winter? The book was one of a series of growing up during America’s settlement of the west during the 1860’s. A short description of the book is a frontier town caught in the grips of a brutal winter. The trains had stopped running and there wasn’t enough food to last till spring. Starvation was imminent until two men discovered a remote farmer who had grown a crop of wheat. The farmer initially refused to give or sell the wheat maintaining if the whole town starved that was their problem not his. It wasn’t his responsibility. Only by offering him a lot of money was he persuaded to sell his wheat and the town was able to hold out until spring.

It was a surprising outlook to life to our modern eyes since we are taught to be generous to others. We can be afford to have a liberal, compassionate culture because of our advanced economies. Of course, one could argue that we’re not that generous to poorer people preferring to hog most of the world’s resources for ourselves but I digress. China is still a very poor country that will take decades of development to reach its full potential. The people will change as their environment improves with a hopefully better attitude and manners. Let’s cut them a little slack not that I don’t feel saddened at the casual indifference or cruelty. I also don’t condone any criminal activity that brings harm to others.

February 3, 2005 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

They’re much too busy trying to survive.

I have no qualms with anyone just trying to survive. Only with the constant and often-repeated acts of criminal carelessness like the infant formula or running illegal mines or allowing workers to inhale lethal fumes. The perpetrators were not poor peasants. It’s the victims who are usually poor. I won’t give any slack to anyone who thinks it’s okay to kill people so they can make a few more yuan.

February 3, 2005 @ 2:48 pm | Comment

Tetsu, thanks for the thoughtful post.

I absolutely agree with you that many things are easily explained by the effects of the last few centuries’ hardships in China. No one expects the impoverished to be magnanimously generous. I am sure I would be a very different person if I was born into an economically difficult world where you and your family’s welfare had to come first.

But I don’t think this can be the sole explanation, because other cultures with similar economic experiences do not share this characteristic, at least not to this degree. For example, in small, poor islands of the Philippines you would not find crowds of people running to watch someone in trouble, everyone refusing to help, and some even laughing.

What I’m talking about isn’t overzealous thriftiness, greed, or simple indifference. Those can be found the world over.

I think it has more to do with the balancing of personal gain with public cost. Chinese seem to calculate this differently. In particular, it’s in situations where relatively small, even trivial personal gain comes at disproportionately high public cost or risk. It does not necessarily involve money.

It’s not about saving old vegetables. It’s imperiling lives by charging your car through crowds to save yourself less than one second. It’s parking your bike sideways across a crowded sidewalk, forcing people into traffic. It’s running through a subway car to grab a seat just before an old woman sits in it. It’s asking an accident victim for money before you will consider helping.

It’s hard for me to connect these with economic want, or looking out for your family.

Sometimes it’s subtle, other times the blatancy and scale are horrifying. The extreme ones become newsworthy (Nanjing snack vendor deliberately fatally poisoning 40 of his competitor’s customers), but on more mundane levels (e.g. entering an elevator) it seems part of the fabric of daily life. At a national level it becomes developers unashamedly stealing village farmlands and massive environmental destruction.

I’m not even sure if what I’m talking about is the same as the meaning of –ƒ–Ø (“ma mu”) or –ƒ–Ø•s?m
(“mamu buren”). I use this term because I read (in English) that Lu Xun used it when angrily describing a photo of a crowd watching a beheading.

I could not agree more that things can change, I need only to observe the evolving behavior of Shanghai’s urban population to be optimistic about the longer-term potential. Although this norm seems to be deeply ingrained in Chinese culture, on the other hand Chinese must be the world champions of adaptability.

The Andres Gentry essay that Richard linked to has a slightly different angle, but describes this phenomenon better than I can hope to. His take is that it is a form of cultural selfishness springing from a relationship-based society.

Apologies for the long post. I’ve been thinking about this a long time, and Richard’s comments “arena” is a great place to get intelligent feedback from many perspectives, including the host’s. 🙂

February 3, 2005 @ 3:32 pm | Comment


Its a breath of fresh air to read something so insightful and so beautifully written. I remember it was one of the reasons that draw me to this site in the beginning.

February 3, 2005 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

WKL, I see your point, and certainly western factories and mines of the early 1800s were no different from many in China today. This can be understood as part of industrialization, and is implicit when we use the term “Dickensian” to describe situations in China.

But in the 1860s American west, at least a fellow was expected to give up a seat for a woman. In 2005 China it’s okay to steal a seat from one. Or to stand by and watch a woman writhing on the ground after being hit by a car. And maybe even snicker about it.

It’s these situations, not immediately connected to personal financial gain, that I find the most troubling.

Thank heavens I see plenty of friendly, helpful people too. My personal hope is that this trait is quickly modified, as I see it as a conspicous mar on a very admirable culture.

February 3, 2005 @ 3:55 pm | Comment

Shanghai slim,

Lu Xun is one of my fave Chinese writers. Have you read Lu Xun’s the story of Ah Q?
I read the book when I was like 12 years old, but after so many years I forget now if the Japanese beheading was mentioned in the book. I know it was a famous incidence to propel Lu Xun to become a writer.

February 3, 2005 @ 4:03 pm | Comment

“But in the 1860s American west, at least a fellow was expected to give up a seat for a woman. In 2005 China it’s okay to steal a seat from one. Or to stand by and watch a woman writhing on the ground after being hit by a car. And maybe even snicker about it.”


Have you seen the movies, Cold Mountain and Gangs of New York? They gave you the not-so-subtle perspectives of American life in the 19th Century.

February 3, 2005 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

No, the Japanese beheading was mentioned in Teng2 Ye3 xian1 sheng1 (I don’t know the original name for Teng Ye) I think. The beheading mentioned in Ah Q was about Republican Revolution.

February 3, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

Shanghai, you said it better than I ever could.

JR, your comment about Gangs of New York is an example of what I was referring to earlier in this thread, when I said there’s a knee-jerk reaction by some commenters to anything critical of China — they try to say it is or was worse in America. Sorry, but the mentality that Shanghai is descibing in his excellent comment was never prevalent in America. There may have been gangs, there may have been violence, but never the ma mu Shanghai Slim describes, never the crowd that would gather around an injured person and not offer to help. I’ll never forget when my boss in Beijing during my first week on the job told me how in China, if a person was lying on the sidewalk bleeding just about everyone would walk right past him. Now, there may be a lot of reasons for this, like a population so huge that you can’t take everyone’s problems on your own shoulders. But it is something unique to China, and nearly every expat I have known in China has stories that validate this point. (Usually many, many stories, especially about the driving etiquette, which is where it comes out in a very scary way.)

February 3, 2005 @ 8:02 pm | Comment


I used to live in poverty in China and now I’m a working poor in US, with 5-digit unpaid credit card. My ethics while in both countries does not change a bit. You can never lie, cheat no matter how poor you are. Like Richard said, the perpetrators are not always the poor.

The difference is, it is very hard to live a life of morality and principle in China. You’d pay a price there, while you can keep a clean conscience and be happy and rich (if you choose) living in America. That’s the most luxury part of American life.

February 3, 2005 @ 8:15 pm | Comment

So long as food is produced under capitalism (ie. so long as it is exists in the form of a commodity) it will be adulterated, refined, processed, dyed and artificially faked – be in in China, America, the UK, or wherever.

That makes me feel so much better about my anti-corporate protest
campaign. I’m using a burnished pine and leather computer,
assembled with hammered copper rivets. The hand-cranked generator
has been a welcome solution for the power, too. I got mad at Fred
and Myrtle’s Electric shop when they went all corporate and stopped
selling me power one electron at a time.

I ride my wooden bike to work, on tires tapped from my very own
rubber trees. Oh, I have to stop and re-tie the string that holds
it all together about twice a day, but I had no choice since
Poindexter’s Nail Company went public on me. It’s a warm feeling,
knowing I’ve denied Wu Yang Bicycle another 30 yuan of rapacious

And I bury my own waste in the yard, around the vegetable garden.
It helps grow my food, especially when I can’t nab any stray pets.
I cook by burning only discarded furniture—it’s a little smoky,
but this way I can strike a blow against Big Food, Big Electric, Big
Sewage Disposal—AND it really entertains the neighbors!

February 3, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

Shanghai Slim,

No need for apologies. It was indeed a long post though I read it through in one sitting! JK.

You said, “I’ve been thinking about this a long time, and Richard’s comments “arena” is a great place to get intelligent feedback from many perspectives, including the host’s. :-)”

I feel exactly the same way. And I wholeheartedly appreciate your comments which are often times objective and thought provoking.

Well, I made a mistake–my grandparents don’t live on welfare. The correct word would be “pension”. A mistake of an inch makes a difference of a thousand miles. Isn’t that so true ^_^. So much for lost in translation.

Anyways, I see your point and I have to say that I only hoped to shed a tiny bit of light to the understanding of the vast phenomenon. Another thing I could think of that contributed significantly to the “twistedness”, for lack of a better word, you witness across China, is the so called, “Cultural Revolution”.

Many people, especially the elderlies, would tell you that people weren’t like this before the cultural revolution. But again, you could quote on Lu Xun to say that Chinese were already lacking sympathy and moral value long before that…well, find something about the cultural revolution and read it if you are interested, if you’ve never done so.

to be continued…

February 3, 2005 @ 10:35 pm | Comment


Read again, I did not start the comparison between 1860 America and modern China. When I talk about the movies, I am not talking about the plots, the gangs, the violences in the movies, but the backgrounds. For me at least, it is eye-opening to see how people lived during that period of time.

February 4, 2005 @ 4:17 am | Comment

“there’s a knee-jerk reaction by some commenters to anything critical of China.”

Richard, sorry if I gave you that impression. For the record, I NEVER defended CCP in my comments in the past. Surprise? BUT I would never compare CCP China to Nazi Germany either.

February 4, 2005 @ 4:47 am | Comment


While Ma mu just means numbness, Lu Xun is a good quote indeed. He was the “sharpest” writer about old and new China. If I can get a book of his in America, I would love to read his book again. Lu Xuns books were banned in Taiwan for awhile for his tie to the CCP or/and for his critics of the KMT.

February 4, 2005 @ 5:06 am | Comment


Do you see a serious flaw in US immigration system? I mean, like we don’t have enough enemies around the world, we even welcome to America those people with knee-jerk reaction to bash America and defend tyranny back their home. And they just refuse to leave! What an ironical system, and what hypocrites those people are.

And I’m serious. I’m not against immigration. In my desktop there is a book titled “Golden Land: The story of Jewish immigration to America” by rabbi Telushkin. It reminds me what America is all about, and what an immigrant can do to make a difference – for the better. I just don’t understand how a person loyal to the Third Reich could have brought meaningful ‘diversity’ to America. Nor can a person loyal to the People’s Republic of Cheating benefit American life in any account. After all, it’s post-911, can we be a little bit smarter and learn a lesson?

February 4, 2005 @ 6:38 am | Comment


Who are you refering to? If you are talking about me, to be truthful to myself, I love America, I consider myself a liberal democrat (not a knee jerk liberal) and always adore President Clinton, but I also hate Bush. (I said it before, I say it again.) Bellevue, Are you a US immigrant or do you still carry your PRC passport?

February 4, 2005 @ 6:55 am | Comment

Not really relevant to this thread, but I wanted to comment on a topic that’s disappeared off the bottom of the screen. It was the one about how many people in China actually speak PTH (putonghua).

The other day, a girl from Beijing told me that I don’t speak PTH … which rather suprised me because it’s sure as hell what I thought I was speaking to her … She told me that I was speaking her own local language … Beijing hua … which made me feel pretty good, that my Chinese is good enough to be characterised as a local dialect … but at the same time … it puts a rather different light on that topic … even me, speaking a version of PTH which is heavily influenced by Beijing people can be said to be speaking something other than PTH …

February 4, 2005 @ 7:01 am | Comment

Bellevue said, “the People’s Republic of Cheating benefit American life in any account. ”

How many people in here believe in the above statement??

February 4, 2005 @ 7:01 am | Comment

Sam, your comment is from several hours ago, but I want to thank you for it. Hilarious and spot-on.

February 4, 2005 @ 7:04 am | Comment

“And I’m serious. I’m not against immigration. In my desktop there is a book titled “Golden Land: The story of Jewish immigration to America” by rabbi Telushkin. It reminds me what America is all about, and what an immigrant can do to make a difference – for the better.”

Such pretentious statement, it makes me shudder!!!

February 4, 2005 @ 7:08 am | Comment

Please, stop continuing to tarnish the good name of liberal democrats you don’t deserve a bit.

A true liberal democrat never tolerates the rampant injustice in China. A true liberal democrat never keeps silent on China’s poor human rights record and its genocide against Tibetan and Uighur. A true liberal democrat stands up to China.

Not sides with China and tries to undermine America every second!

February 4, 2005 @ 7:19 am | Comment

Off topic. What if Lu Xun had lived long enough to be a citizen under Mao?

In 1957, Mao was personally asked of this question. His reply: Lu Xun could either keep on writing in prison, or kept silent.

If you are led to think Lu Xun is CCP’s friend, think again.

February 4, 2005 @ 7:35 am | Comment

Thanks all for the intelligent comments on “ma mu”!

I hope it’s clear that the westerners discussing this are not doing so simply to kick some dirt on China’s culture. Rather, if you can understand the underlying reasons for a cultural difference, it’s usually much easier to accept it.

For example, if an American businessman casually accepts your business card with one hand, it will be easier to accept the apparent rudeness if you understand the informality of American business culture.

Behavior I experience in China that can be attributed to poverty, overcrowding, competition for limited resources – these I can understand, making it far easier for me to accept. It also helps that I was poor once myself.

However, there are still some aspects of “mamu buren” (if that is indeed the best term for it) that I don’t quite understand, most notably: is this a recent phenomenon??? If it is, that’s good news, because it could quickly change. If my classroom experiences with young middle-class Chinese are any indication, it is changing already.

As for the Lu Xun reference, I have read some of his novels (in English), however what I was referring to was apparently an essay(s) Lu Xun wrote after seeing a photo of Japanese soldiers beheading an alledged Chinese spy in 1905. Lu Xun was supposedly angered by the reactions of the Chinese captured in the photo, who were apparently crowding around to catch a glimpse of the prisoner’s final torment. I did not personally read this, I came across the reference in City Weekend magazine (the author translated “ma mu” as “voyeurism”). That’s why I am so unsure if that is the correct term for this, at least it sounds like what Lu Xun was describing. Here’s a link to the article:

As for the recent historical experiences of the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, etc., I sometimes wonder if modern-day Americans could pull through such national catastrophes as well as the Chinese public did.

Anyway, here’s to better understanding and acceptance.

February 4, 2005 @ 7:53 am | Comment


I agree with you, Lu Xun was one of the sharpest, and I personally memorized quite a few of his articles. To this day I still remember pieces of them.

There was a problem though. He had too much rage. I’m not saying we can’t get angry. But when anger becomes the main driving force of one’s daily life and creation, which is obviously the case in Lu Xun, it is more often than not, counterproductive rather than productive, regardless of intention and amount of effort. In fact, the more effort you chip in, the more counterproductive it gets. Lu Xun died young.

Ever tried to solve a problem between family members when you are charged with emotions? How did it work out? It’s true for a family, a society, as well as a nation.

Needless to say, Lu Xun was one of the greatest writers, though he wasn’t necessarily the most successful one.

If a whole bunch of people were cast to a small island, he would be the one that pointed out every problem there was and pissed everybody off including himself. A guy went straight to start building a boat would have been more productive in this case.

February 4, 2005 @ 8:02 am | Comment

Shanghai, the voyeurism you describe is certainly not limited to the Chinese. One of the most terrifying stories I ever read was about the rounding up of Jews in Lithuania. Read the following description carefully; the scene takes place in the crowded town square, with delighted villagers looking on and applauding:

A young man – he must have been a Lithuanian…with rolled-up sleeves was armed with an iron crowbar. He dragged out one man at a time from the group and struck him with the crowbar with one or more blows to the back of his head. Within three -quarters of an hour he had beaten to death the entire group of forty-five to fifty people in this way..After the entire group had been beaten to death, the young man put the crowbar to one side, fetched an accordion and went and stood on the mountain of corpses and played the Lithuanian national anthem…After each man had been killed women and children began to clap and when the national anthem started up they joined in singing and clapping…I took a series of photographs of the victims…” : ‘Those were the Days: The Holocaust through the Eyes of the Perpetrators and Bystanders’, Klee, Dressen & Riess, Hamish Hamilton, 1988.

Now, there may be deeper reasons for why this happened, namely the long-held belief that Jews were subhuman monsters who could never be tortured enough. But still, I try to imagine women holding up their young children to watch this butchery, and I wonder whether we all possess this capability of cruelty and voyeuristic sadism. (There is a famous photo of a mother holding up her little girl to watch the carnage, smiling and clapping.) Maybe it’s also partly due to the villagers’ level of education and development.

But all that said, these people who could be very bestial tended to show their worst when dealing with others who they considered of a different race. The Nazis, for example, treated fellow Germans with incredible respect and politeness (if they were on their side), and showed an altogether different side to Jews and Gypsies and Slavs. The idea of anyone in Germany dumping a drum of deadly poison into the community’s drinking water and risking thousands of German lives simply to save a few dollars in disposal costs is literally inconceivable, and is to my knowledge unheard of. And yet in The Chinese Jasper Becker describes a Chinese business owner committing just such a deed as a not-very-surprising occurrence, of a widespread cultural phenomenon of disregard for your own people as long as you can profit. There’s evil aplenty in every society and we can come up with all sorts of horror stories. The shocking thing is that in China they are not horror stories, they are simply a way of life.

February 4, 2005 @ 9:09 am | Comment

JR, here’s what you need to get. Back then, in the Gangs of New York environment, those nasty guys would still have stood up and given their seat to a lady. Really, that is what America was all about, even in the poor places, at least until the 1960s when courtesy became less fashionable.

February 4, 2005 @ 11:24 am | Comment

Semi-off-topic: Good piece on China’s treatment of its intellectuals can be found here, with the closing paragraph discussing writer Lu Xun.

February 4, 2005 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

Really, that is what America was all about, even in the poor places, at least until the 1960s when courtesy became less fashionable.

Might as well add another post to this wide-ranging thread.

This is one of the reasons I’ve become even more of a Texas “patriot”, Richard. The entire South, actually, backward as many of our betters view us, has retained a shred or two of the courtliness and warmth that makes a society worth preserving.

February 4, 2005 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

It’s so nice when you and I agree, Sam, rare though it may be!

February 4, 2005 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

Another Made-in-China product, which you would rather wish it’s not genuine:

China skins animal alive for fur

Chinese fur farm cruelty


“The group (PSA) said it had six hours of video film and 550 photographs taken by local activists showing foxes, wild dogs or martens being clubbed or thrown to the ground to knock them unconscious, thereby avoiding damage to their pelts.

Most of the animals are just stunned and often recover consciousness while they are being skinned, leaving them in agony for up to ten minutes before they die, PSA said in a statement.”

Chinese may think those animals are as ma2 mu4 as they are. Unfortunately, the animals are not.

February 4, 2005 @ 10:41 pm | Comment

I still wondering where I can get a computer made of burnished pine and leather! 🙂

February 4, 2005 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

It’s so nice when you and I agree, Sam

Aw, don’t go all mushy; I’ll be snarling soon enough.

where I can get a computer made of burnished pine and leather!

Didn’t you learn those skills in your school shop classes? I made mine myself using only a sharp stone and my teeth!

February 4, 2005 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

ARGH! My last post referring to leather appears in very bad taste following Bellevue’s.

He must have been posting while I was writing.

On animals in China (sure, why not another topic in this thread!), I’m torn. On one hand, I cringe at what I perceive as cruelty. Then again, I’m one of those who is bothered by the sight of living crabs tightly bound up at the supermarket, and even songbirds in cages.

However I feel bad worrying about some damn crab while huge numbers of people are scratching out lives at the medieval peasant level.

So for now I’m putting crustacean rights on the back burner. Free press first, free songbirds later.

(Is it obvious that it’s that time of the year when some posters have a little extra time on their hands?)

Next topic! 😉

February 4, 2005 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

“Didn’t you learn those skills in your school shop classes? I made mine myself using only a sharp stone and my teeth!”

I hope you didn’t use your teeth for hammering those copper rivets! 🙂

I wish I could paste in a picture of an earlier pc I owned which I modified to look like a tarnished, weathered old machine.

Okay, no more spurious posts from me! Hurry up and post a new article, Richard! 😉

February 4, 2005 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

Don’t you guys wanna move on to another thread? This is getting old…

February 7, 2005 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

Unfortunately there aren’t many other threads — there is zero news out of China this week.

February 7, 2005 @ 4:06 pm | Comment

I dont know if u guys r still talkin about the counterfeit crap. But I dont care if I live in a Communist country or a Capitalist country. I just wanna be able to eat a bag of Chicken nuggets without finding out theres pork or a whole shitload of chemicals in it DAMMIT!!! I dont care if the fucking CEO needs more money to go to the Tropics. Or if he needs it to bring his slutty daughter through College. I ordered meat, AND THAT ALL I FUCKING WANT! I dont care if its “off-coloured”, or if theres a green spot on my order of fries; just dont god-damn pump my food full of shit. I spent like an hour reading all of your comments and rants. Anyways. just to sum it up. DONT FUCK WITH MY FOOD!

October 25, 2005 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

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